When Jordi Polycarpe was eight years old, her sister showed her the song “Ignorance” by Paramore. Over a decade later, Polycarpe is following in the footsteps of Hayley Williams and honing her craft as an eclectic singer songwriter at the Frost School of Music.
“That sort of set off a whole thing of ‘I want to do that, I want to write like that, that’s cool,’” Polycarpe said.
Polycarpe continued to explore her passion for music, picking up the guitar at 13 and eventually using GarageBand to start producing at 15. By the time she arrived at UM, Polycarpe started to use more advanced musical softwares like Apple’s LogicProX.
Now a senior at UM studying modern artist development and entrepreneurship, Polycarpe is continuing what she started as a three-year-old piano player.
“To me, music is the only thing that always makes sense,” Polycarpe said. “In any aspect of life, of things that are confusing or things that I’m going through or math which I was never good at, it kinda just falls on my lap.”
Polycarpe has released three EPs, multiple singles and countless features. Her work draws elements from alternative R&B, indie rock, Caribbean jazz and Caribbean pop.
While the multi-instrumentalist has a wide-ranging musical arsenal at her disposal, Polycarpe notes that her most rudimentary technique is often her most effective.
“At times, it’s just me and the guitar, because that’s sort of my root for creating music,” Polycarpe said. “I feel like I can really get down to what I really want to say.”
Polycarpe music is usually built on vocal harmonies, often layering up to 39 different voice tracks in a single song.
“It’s just a matter of panning and moving these voices around so when you listen to it, it sounds like a chorus is singing at you, standing in different places” Polycarpe said, who sang in her school chorus as a child “It’s like multiple of me singing in a cathedral is sort of my staple.”
Faculty at the Frost School of Music say that Polycarpe’s music often stands out from the pack.
“She has a vibe and that’s not easy to develop as an artist,” said Raina Murnack, an assistant professor at the Frost School of Music and the Director of the Frost Summer Institute of Contemporary Songwriting. “A vibe is a culmination of so many factors; It’s the sounds she chooses, the way she phrases things, the attitude and character that come through in the lyrics,” Murnack said.
One thing that sets Polycarpe’s music apart, Murnack says, is how catchy most of her tracks are.
“Every time I hear a new Jordi song, it gets stuck in my head,” Murnack said. “I hear songs all day long, so for something to get stuck in my head, it means that it stands out in some way.”
Some of Polycarpe’s classmates say they see her as a complete musical package, from production to performance.
“I love how hands-on she is about the production process,” said Jasmine Ortiz, a fellow singer-songwriter and a senior at Frost. “Taking things from start to finish and really making sure she gets the sound she wants.”
Long-time friend and collaborator Charlie Pomerantz, a producer and UM student studying marketing, finance and the music industry, says he most admires Polycarpe’s ambition and enthusiasm as a collaborator..
“I just asked for a verse, but she sent me two verses, vocal harmony and an outro,” Pomerantz said.
Through her music, Polycarpe hopes to translate the emotions of her day to day with listeners around the world.
“Every situation or moment I’m writing about is like a pocket of time, it’s a really visceral thing,” Polycarpe said. “I want whoever is listening to be a third-party in the room.”
Though she grew up with artists like Paramore and Christina Aguilera, Polycarpe cites R&B sensation Kehlani as her biggest musical inspiration.
“Just like her sound and her independence, she’s always been the kind of person who writes her own stuff,” Polycarpe said. “That’s something I really look up to and something I want to emulate in my career.”
Polycarpe says that one of her biggest motivators is her tight group of friends constantly encouraging her to release new music.
“I feel like if nobody specifically told me to, I would be sitting on thousands of songs,” Polycarpe said.
From an eight-year-old Paramore fan to a multi-talented musician and producer, Polycarpe credits her artistic evolution to her family, friends and education at the school she says was a match made in heaven from the start.
“I remember when I auditioned for Frost, this was the only place where I felt like the music school felt like a family,” Polycarpe said. “This was the only place where I felt like competition didn’t have to mean you over me.”